Do you like traveling minstrels? Live music and storytelling? Well, Smoky Mountains Tunes and Tales was created for you. This unique festival takes place twice a year in Gatlinburg, offering an enjoyable way to learn more about Appalachia.
Storytelling, Music, and More
Appalachian people love to tell stories! Storytelling is a way to share experiences and history, entertain, and educate. In Appalachia, stories are interwoven with Cherokee myths, ballads brought over from “the old country”, tall tales of hunting exploits and near-death experiences, and of course family. It’s a way to keep all the important things alive.
And music is just as important as the storytelling! Appalachian music combines elements from Scottish and Irish ballads, and fiddle music, with Native American and African slaves’ music. Stringed instruments like the banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, guitar, and fiddle, along with spoons and a washboard, are used in most tunes.
And, don’t forget Appalachian dancing! This form of folk dancing also uses elements and rhythms borrowed from Native Americans, African slaves, as well as English, Scots-Irish, and French ancestors. Traditional Appalachian dances include flatfoot dancing, clogging, and buckdancing.
Enjoying Tales and Tunes
Every year, through June and July, and then again in December, downtown Gatlinburg is filled with the region’s best storytellers, dancers, and musicians. Modern minstrels, actors, and musicians, in costumes, of course, stroll through the downtown dancing, singing, and playing music. Several stages are set up for live concerts and have included concerts by Pine Box and Hubcap, Ten Penny Drive, and Mountain Highway.
If you love Appalachian culture, this is the festival for you. These stories, songs, and music are a way to share our Appalachian history, culture, and heritage, from the 1800s to the present day. There’s a street-performance festival atmosphere, from 6 pm to 10 pm nightly, and traditional bluegrass, Gospel, country, and folk music fills the air. And, the December Tales and Tunes festival takes on traditional holiday themes, Appalachia style.
Listen Any Way You Can
While nothing beats hearing these performances live, with downtown Gatlinburg and the Smokies as a beautiful backdrop, many of the performances are streamed live on the Gatlinburg Tales and Tunes Facebook page.
If you plan on being in Gatlinburg during festival times, book one of our lovely Gatlinburg vacation homes. After a day of sightseeing or hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can enjoy a bit of Appalachian culture, then head home for a sip or two of local ‘shine on the back deck under the stars. Now that’s a vacation.